They go to the Slytherin common room, then up the staircase to the boys' dormitory. Ginny stops for a moment, watches as Blaise slams the door open. The room is empty save for Malfoy. Ginny stops at the door, but Blaise marches up to him, grabbing him around the neck and throwing him against the wall. Ginny flinches at the impact. Malfoy doesn't utter a sound, his gaze stony and focused on the floor. Blaise is talking in a low voice in his ear and Ginny cannot hear what he's saying. Five, six, seven deep breaths pass when suddenly Malfoy's eyes snap to hers. She realizes tears are streaked down his face. "I'm so sorry" he chokes out, as Blaise releases him, and he sinks to the ground, forehead to knees, shaking.

Unsure how long it took her to move, Ginny finds herself kneeling down in front of him. Blaise has taken a seat on the edge of the closest bed. She hesitates, then places her hands on his knees. He looks up at her with such clear pain on his face, his features twisted, red and wet with crying. Ginny reaches down and grabs his hand. He tries to pull away from the contact, but she jerks his arm forward. His arm tenses as she starts to push his sleeve up, and he looks away. There, a few inches up is the Dark Mark. Blaise's sharp intake of breath is the only sound. Ginny stares at it a moment, then places her hand over it. Her skin is cool against fire. Malfoy gasps loudly and looks at her. He watches as she gently touches his skin. She looks up at him. "It's okay" she says simply. His eyes fill with tears, and he closes them, fighting back this reaction. He swallows and nods. He breaths out, relief evident in his slumped shoulders. He wipes his face with his hand, and clears his throat.

"Lovely tattoo don't you think?" His remark goes flat, Blaise paying no attention.

"What has that bastard made you do?"

"It's my own fault," Malfoy starts but stops at Blaise's expression.

"You're not like him Draco, you're not. Whatever he thinks, whatever you might think - you're not." Malfoy looks at Blaise, then over at Ginny.

"I – I don't know you very well," says Ginny, "but…I don't think you meant what you said." He breaths in sharply at her comment about the night before, but she keeps eye contact. "I don't think –you believe those things." She looks down at his arm where the dark mark is burned, such a contrast to his pale skin. "And I don't think you're like these people either." He looks back to Blaise, then closes his eyes.

"I don't want to be," He breaths out quietly. But I don't know, he can't help thinking.

They are all quiet for a time. Ginny swallows and breaks the silence. "Malfloy,"she starts.

"Don't call me that. I do have a first name, Ginny, I'm not just my fathers son." His voice is hard, but his anger is not directed at her.

"Draco – wow, I really don't think I've ever said that." He almost smiles. "I think - I think we really need to go to Dumbledore." Malfoy looks away from her, then registering exactly what she said, looks back.


Blaise speaks up. "Naturally mate, I for one wouldn't want to leave you alone with that wacko." Ginny leans over and smacks his arm lightly.

"He's not a wacko, just…eccentric. "

"To say the least."

Malfoy is quiet. "It'll get back to him."

"It won't, no one will know. It's late – we could go now, nobody will be in the hall way to see us."

"I can't lie to him – the last time…" He stops.

"But Dumbledore is going to help you. That's why you need to go to him." Ginny explains. "He can help you, Draco."

"You don't know that." Ginny wants to say she is sure, but – this is over her head. Mafloy has seen He-who-must-not-be-named. Been branded by him. Who is she to say anyone can help? Blaise watches his friend closely.

"Dray – what else can you do?" And Malfoy just shakes his head.

"Look," Blaise continues, "everyone knows Ginny and I are friends, so we'll meet you down by…Snape's office in 5 mintues yeah? Please, Draco, I agree with Ginny." Malfoy stands up, looking down at them.

"Do I really have a choice?" he asks them, knowing they'd have to tell someone if he refused. He gestures for them to go.

They stand slowly, Blaise waiting at the door as Ginny walks over to Malfoy. "Please come," she says quietly, and then they leave.

They go down the hall and find Professor Snape in his classroom.

"And what do I own this - unexpected visit to?" Snape asks.

"Actually Professor, We need to speak to The Head Master. Well, Draco Malfloy is meeting us here…we all need to speak to him." Snape sweeps out from behind the table.

"What is this all about, has something happened?" He looks down at Ginny. Her eyes flick back from the door to his.

"No, sir, but we need to discuss something with him. It's urgent."

"Very well. Where is Mr Malfoy – " The door opens and in he comes, Ginny almost sighing with relief. His face is impassive, eyes hard, his body carrying none of his usual swagger. He looks at Ginny and gives a little shrug at her encouraging smile.

"Because you said please." She isn't sure what to make of that, but Snape clears his throat.

"Follow me, then."

They arrive at the statue in silence. Snape mutters the password, and the staircase appears. Ginny looks over at the boys. Blaise is looking at Malfoy, who is staring forward. She takes the lead, knowing they'll follow after her.

"Ah! Ms Weasley, to what do I owe this great honor-"Dumbledore pauses, as Malfoy, and then Blaise appear behind her. All three stand awkwardly by the door. "I see." Says Dumbledore. Two more chairs appear. "Sit please, make yourselves comfortable." Ginny notices Malfoy's avoidance of direct eye contact with Dumbledore, who, Ginny's sure, has noticed this as well. Dumbldore sits back, fingertips touching across his chest. He doesn't say a word. Ginny looks over at Blaise, who shrugs.

"Head Master-"

"No, I think it would be best if Mr. Malfoy began, don't you Ginerva?" Ginny opens her mouth, then sits back. It's a few moments before anyone says anything. Malfoy clears his throat, then, without lifting his head he says clearly, "I have the Dark Mark. Sir." Dumbledore does not move or speak, but Ginny is sure his eyes went a little wide.

"Ms Wealey, Mr Zabini," he says after a moment, "would you mind waiting down in Ms McGonagall's classroom for your classmate? You should find the door unlocked, and the room empty."

"Sir –" Blaise says, but Dumbldore holds up his hand.

"I insist." He says quietly. Nobody moves for a minutes until Malfoy looks over at Blaise saying quietly, "it's fine." Blaise stands and puts his hand on his shoulder, then turns to leave. Ginny stands, then leans down and places her lips against Malfoy's forehead. She feels him relax against her for a moment, before she leaves.

They sit awkwardly in the empty classroom, both opting for sitting on the ground instead of the desks, backs against the wall, a heavy silence between them.

"I can't believe-"

"I know." More silence. Ginny finally breaks it. "So, you've known him for a long time?"

"Yeah, since primary school. We live down the street from each other." He stops, thinking. "He wasn't always like this." Ginny looks at him. "Reserved, controlled, always saying the opposite of what he means. He used to be – normal."

"Whats his family like? I – I've met his father once. He – he inevitably helped reopen the chamber of secrets."

"Really? I always knew you were involved with that somehow…" She doesn't explain any more, so he answers her question. "Well, you've met Lucius. He's cold, and formal – and, he always implemented these rules on Draco when we were little; not letting him play or fly, or hang out after school. He never really let him do anything, except study. And, I mean everyone always suspected he was a…Death Eater. I guess that's confirmed." Ginny is quiet. "I think he hits Draco's mom. I don't know if he ever – with Draco. I don't know. When we were younger – after I was introduced and I guess he thought I was an 'acceptable' friend, Draco was allowied to stay over on the weekends. He used to cry himself to sleep every night. I always pretended I didn't hear him." They sit in silence again for awhile, before Blaise continues. "His mom was always, I dunno, twitchy. Nervous. I never saw either of them ever, you know, hug Draco, or tell him they loved him – or anything nice really. They didn't act like parents. I barely ever went over there – Draco didn't want me to, I could tell. As we started to get older, he sort of adopted this alter ego. This other personality in front of his father. Before he would have stayed quiet at a remark Lucius would make, but he started agreeing, and… imitating him almost. Away from his house though, he'd still be himself. At school, he was fine. For while. I guess it was around the time we started Hogwarts, what with the whole 'Harry Potter – the boy who lived' stuff that popped up then. He started being like that other self more and more. I thought once we got here, he'd be back to himself. But by then him and Potter were arch enemies and..well, you know." He pauses, then continues slowly, "Sometimes he's still like himself, and I guess I put up with him all the other times because I know why he's acting like that." He stops. Then, "Everything gets back to Lucius." Ginny doesn't say anything, but rests her head on Blaise's shoulder. They wait.